Should You Paint the Edges of Your Canvas? And How to do It Step-by-Step for Beginners

Should You Paint the Edges of Your Canvas? And How to do It Step-by-Step for Beginners


Hi Everyone, I’m Jane and today we’re going to talk about whether or not you should paint the edges of your canvas. And if so, how to do it. This is a question I get asked a lot. And there really is no specific answer. Really, it’s up to you whether you paint the edges of your canvas. Some artists… will wrap the image around the edges. So that it’s a continual piece. When you look at the side you can still see for example on this one you might see some of the reflections and the buildings would continue. For me, that’s just way too much work. I’ve done it before and it’s… it’s not for me. But a lot of artists do that. Some artists never paint the edges of their canvas. So… all of their paintings, look like this on the edge. You can see drips & splatters from the painting that they did. Or it’s just left white. And some artists will paint the edges a solid color afterwards. Either white or black, which is what I typically do, or a color that is prominent in the background. So, again… there is no right & no wrong way to to handle that. It’s really up to you. But… if you decide you want to paint the edges of the canvas… I’m going to show you two ways to do it. First I’m going to show you, the wrong way to do it. Then I’m going to show you the right way to do it. Here’s one of the first work ups that I did of “A Walk in the Rain” And since this one isn’t perfect… You can see the painting behind it… I’m just going to end up painting over this anyway. So, I’m going to show you the wrong way to paint the edge on this canvas. Alright, now regardless of whether or not you’re going to do this the right way or the wrong way… You’re gonna take a brush that you’re comfortable with and I suggest that it has a flat edge across the top. Like the 1 inch background brush. This is typically what I will use. The reason I’m going to use one with a flat edge at the top is because that edge helps us make the line here cleanly. So, I’m gonna wet it in the jar… and wipe it off on the edge. If you need to, dab a little bit of the extra water out on a paper towel, that’s fine. So I’ve got some black paint on my palette here and I’m just going to load up with some. You don’t want globs of it, you wanna be able to control it. Even though we’re doing this the wrong way you still don’t want too much on there. Now, by the wrong way, I mean you don’t want to take the brush like this and just streak down the edge. Because do you see what happens? It’s really hard to control that and it gets on the front of your canvas. Even if try and go really easily like that… If you push too hard, it’s really easy to get a wobbly line that you feel like you have to keep trying to cover up. and getting some on the front edge of the canvas. Even if you do it this way…. it’s easy to lose control… of the shape of your brush… and get it on the front. So that’s what I mean by the wrong way. We don’t do it like this… and we don’t do it like this. Now we’re gonna do it the right way. Notice I’ve got my canvas turned around so the image is actually facing backwards. And that’s because my focus is gonna be on this front line here. I don’t want any paint to go past that line. And so if I look at it from the back I easily control that. And I’m going to use my brush… with the flat edge… and I’m gonna come at it… and put my brush right there so that… the edge is right in line with that. Now… no matter how hard I push it’s not gonna go past that edge. Even if my brush extends past it it’s not going to wrap around onto the front of the canvas. It’s just going… as soon as the canvas starts to curve… the paint is gonna stop. It’s not going to wrap on there. Once you got the line in the front well defined then you can come back to the the back edge… and kinda wipe at it like that. So I’m gonna show you on this top edge here where my canvas has got the white in the front. So again, I’m going to go flat onto the canvas and even that edge can extend past it and I’m just gonna wipe downwards. (lovely sound of paint wiping onto the canvas) (watch Jane make it nice and pretty) Get ya a little bit of a different angle there. See how that line… is nice and smooth… because… That line already exists on the canvas. I’m not trying to draw a line. You can continue all the way down. (lovely music as we watch Jane) (Look at Jane go!!) Once you get to the corners, there’s usually a little bit of a fold there so I’ll take the edge of my brush and just kinda run it along the inside of that fold. Make sure that there’s not a bright white… spot peeking out. And then just rotate my canvas and keep going. So there’s my painting, with the edges all painted. And it only took me… maybe about 5 minutes to do and I didn’t have to do any cleanup. I hope that helped answer your question about painting the edges. If you have any other questions please leave me a comment below and let me know and I’ll see if I can get to those for you. Make sure you like, comment and subscribe I do have a video coming out a little bit later about varnishing a canvas and I’m going to use this exact painting in that varnish video. So thanks for watching everyone and I’ll see you next time!

100 thoughts on “Should You Paint the Edges of Your Canvas? And How to do It Step-by-Step for Beginners

  1. Very useful your advices. But most of all I like the painting you are using as example. Can you show us how to paint this particular painting?

  2. Thank you Jane. I am a stickler about painting the edges of my canvas. I LOVE the idea of turning the canvas around!

  3. Will you do a tutorial on the green gradient painting on the wall with the silhouetted trees? It's beautiful!

  4. Thanks, never thought about that way. Will have to try! So far with all I've tried; my finger works best 😄

  5. it may be wrong, but I always paint me edges as I go, so the color always match that particular area and it's always a smooth transition

  6. I usually just paint the edges when I do the base coat of paint, that way I don't have to worry about it later. But as usual, you did an excellent job at what not to do and what to do.

  7. Thanks Jane. I have to admit I am guilty of doing it the wrong way. I like the all black edge concept. Will have to try it on a painting and see if I like it. I usually try to continue my painting all around though. Looks nice if you get those floater frames. Lesson learned. I usually wind up with paint all over my hands trying to paint edges. Will have to try your way. Thanks again.

  8. Hi Jane, i have two questions. Can i paint edges before i start my painting?
    Also could you please post video of how to transfer paper drawing to a white canvas using tracing paper. I am not really good at drawing:(Thank you.

  9. Thank you very much for showing me what I was doing wrong and explaining why it wasn't working.  As a new painter who will most likely never frame her work, this was extremely helpful!

  10. Oh I was going to do one in a couple of days. And I would have been upset. lol Thanks so much for this great info! 😀 I haven't put a painting on yet. They aren't that good. But the profile picture I have of Marilyn Monroe is a portrait I did. That is what I did mostly and now looking forward to painting. 😀

  11. Now I know I've been doing it all wrong! 🙂 I will use this technique on my next painting-tomorrow. Thank you.

  12. Very helpful, did not know the right way, so far I do the wrap around continuation cause I did not know of any other way that would be acceptable.  Thanks so much for the help!

  13. I use a little wee paint roller. It works great! It's only about 3 inches long. I put a glob of paint on my paper palette, and roll the roller in it, trying to not get too much paint on it. The easiest way to make sure to not get too much paint on the roller, I've found, is to use a brush to apply the paint all the way around and then roll it onto the canvas. Best part is, it doesn't go onto the front of the canvas! = )

  14. HI Jane my wife follows you and since I started painting I'm following you as well , I've learned so much from you, and your techniques of painting is awesome. thank you so much.

  15. I watch your video of this painting and painted it, this was my 3rd painting and I'm getting so many compliments. I still can believe I did it your a awesome teacher and I can't wait to try a other one ….I'm learning so much from you THANK YOU for sharing all your knowledge tips and tricks

  16. Hi Jane :).. I would really like to learn how to paint the picture of the trees towards the right hand corner of the screen in the beginning of this tutorial. Do you have a tutorial for that or will you? I love the feeling the glow in the center gives in contrast to the darkness of the trees.

  17. I love Your video tutorials and I can't get enough of them. Painting the edges was particularly helpful to my and thank you for posting it.

  18. Hi! How can we fix something In the canvas? If we draw a line In black and want to remove it. it is possible? Kisses from Portugal!

  19. Thanks so much for your help. I am very new at painting (about 2 weeks old) and doing so well with your help. Going to do this painting today. You have a very good speaking voice and you explain and show the technique well. Its as if you next to me. Thanks again.

  20. Great job! Allow me to suggest an even easier way: buy a good-sized permanent ink, black, felt-tip marker…& do it with that. Just be careful when applying it to the edge of the painting that you don't push down too hard & run it over the edge onto the front of the piece. On a 16 X 20 canvas, it takes only about 2 minutes.
    Happy Trails

  21. Thank you so much! I'm always getting paint on the front of my paintings from painting the edges! This is very helpful!

  22. I'm admiring all the stuff on your walls. You have an interesting studio/space. I especially love the OZ drawings/paintings in the background of this video. Is that your work? My husband thinks the WofO is, by far, the best movie ever made. I've been cruising the YouTube world for many years searching for beginner help and your site is the only one to which I have subscribed. Thank you for the site, for talking slowly, for giving/demonstrating directions that are easy to understand, and most of all for not allowing the music volume to overwhelm your voice.

  23. I'm glad I watched this! I never thought of painting the edges a solid color! Der… I've got my paintings stacking up waiting to have the edges painted and then varnish them. I thought I was going to have to mix paints to match the edges of all areas! That would've taken months, hence it hasn't been done yet! Now I'll be able to rock those out quickly. Thanks Jane!!

  24. I oil paint only and paint the edges of my canvases all the
    time. What is so good is you don’t need the added expense to buy a frame! I
    find it so easy to continue the painting around the edges as I paint. When
    painting the bottom of the canvas remove canvas from easel and just lay the
    canvas on a table to finish and let dry. I highly recommend this!

  25. THANK YOU!!! I am a very very new beginner, and this technique greatly improved the look of my "painting." – I use quotes because it is actually a background only, with another medium (heat transfer vinyl) that will be added after thoroughly dried. Now I am ready to try making a real picture. Your videos are just great, and you have opened up a whole new world for me.

  26. Mark Rothko was the first painter to paint around the edges of his canvas and he did it to emphasize the painting as an object existing in real space, the space of the gallery.  He wanted to be sure that people did not read his paintings as a box of air that one looks into.  All realistic paintings are boxes of illusionistic space. Painting around the edge of a realistic painting contradicts this illusion.

  27. This is a great tutorial! Thanks, Jane. I have a question about drawing & then painting a border to frame a painting. I haven't done this before, however, my paint leaked through the frog tape, so now I have a 1 1/2 inch white border around it, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not sure what the best way to go about this would be. Do you have a video on doing this?

  28. IMO Both methods are Wrong. If you care about your edges, then put some paint on the edges while doing your painting, do the sides as you do your layers. If you're the type of painter that doesn't paint the edges while doing a piece, then don't bother.

    IMO it looks tacky painting the edges after the painting.

  29. Все очень интересно, но хотелось бы перевод на русский язык

  30. Oh my gosh! Finally someone explains an easy way to paint the edges. I struggled for years trying to do my edges. Thanks for putting this out there for us.✨☺️👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  31. Hello saw your artwork diplayed an the wall, my question is how should one display artwork at home by theme, colour, scenery, still etc

  32. This was so very helpful! Thanks so much! I was so frustrated by accidentally getting paint up on the top of my painting. I love your technique. I just tried it and it worked beautifully!

  33. This is fine. Thank you! There are no rules about the edges. Most canvases are framed that are finalized so few people see them. If you want your edges to matter, paint them. That's all that matters. A great painting won't be judged on the edges.

  34. These videos are so relaxing and help with many kinds of doubts I have as a begginer artist, I absolutely love the sound of the bristles against the canvas!

  35. Wish I had seen this before I painted the sides of my prior canvases. Learned the hard way. Thank you for all these tips.

  36. have you ever used foam brushes to do the edges? just wondering as it looks like your method might ruin the brush eventually…?

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